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07-21-2006

Theta Phi Alpha Charters Clarkson University Sorority Chapter

[A photograph for media use is available at: http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/tpa_sisters.jpg]

Twenty-three hard-working colony members, 10 supportive alumni and one faculty advisor became charter members for the Gamma Mu chapter of the national Theta Phi Alpha sorority on Saturday, May 20, 2006.

The commemorative weekend consisted of ceremonies and a formal dinner hosted by national Theta Phi Alpha President MariAnn Callais and guest speaker Kathryn Johnson, vice president for University Outreach and Student Affairs for Clarkson University. A congratulatory letter was also read by newly chartered member and senior member Jennifer L. Hubbley on Jason C. Libby's behalf, associate dean of students for Student Organizations and director of Greek Affairs. Theta Phi Alpha Charters Clarkson University Sorority Chapter

It's not everyday a sorority member gets a chance to talk with their national president. MariAnn Callais is down to earth and an incredible motivator. She definitely made the weekend extraordinary and meaningful, remarked Hubbley.

Callais, in addition to her welcome speech, presented the chapter's official signed charter, individual membership certificates, and provided a thank you and inspiration speech to the Gamma Mu chapter members, alumni and advisor for their hard work. Tiffany Jones, chapter president and Rebecca Briggs, former colony alumni advisor, ended the dinner with awards for each of the members for character, behavior, dedication and spirit to which made becoming a Theta Phi Alpha chapter possible.

Before the members were the Gamma Mu chapter of Theta Phi Alpha, they were known locally in Potsdam, N.Y., and through Clarkson University as Chi Delta Sigma. Chi Delta Sigma was founded on October 22, 1997, by six women; Elissa Goyette (Sikora), Christine Butson (Pistor), Melissa Poole (Corraro), Holly Sotkovski, Kelly Turner, and Kimi Will.

The women created Chi Delta Sigma with strong ideals of non-hazing, sisterhood and perseverance. Since its conception, the founders of Chi Delta Sigma were aware that the local sorority would one day have to become a chapter of a national sorority to ensure its survival. In the fall of 2001, Chi Delta Sigma was approved as a local sorority of Clarkson University and included as a member of the University's Panhellenic Council.

After a long search, Chi Delta Sigma received word that Theta Phi Alpha was interested in colonizing the local sorority. On January 8, 2005, Chi Delta Sigma became a colony of Theta Phi Alpha, and since then worked hard to fulfill the requirements to become a chapter.

The sorority began to learn of their new national sorority (known in the early 1900s as a fraternal organization) affiliation and its history. In 1912, a small, local fraternity (Omega Upsilon) of Catholic women was struggling at the University of Michigan. The organization was originally founded in 1909 by Father Edward D. Kelly, a pastor of the student chapel at the University. He believed there should be some kind of home life provided for the young Catholic women attending the university. Original interest peaked for the sorority partly because Catholics were not always welcome in the other Greek-lettered organizations on campus.

Otilia Leuchtweis became the first chapter president, and plans for the sorority's first school year was completed on August 30, 1912. During the first week, Theta Phi's first pledge sister, Kathlyn Holmes pledged, followed by Marie Sullivan and with the aid of alumnae, the women held their first initiation on November 6, 1912. Theta Phi Alpha celebrates its founding every year on April 30.

Theta Phi Alpha is a national women's social fraternity, and is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). For more than 90 years, the sisters of Theta Phi Alpha have maintained a history rich in educational excellence, professional achievement, and a deep commitment to social service. The mission of Theta Phi Alpha is to create close comradeship, to advance educational, social and philanthropic interests and leadership training; to encourage spiritual development and adherence to the highest moral standards; and to promote lifelong bonds of friendship.

Membership in Theta Phi Alpha, like that of any other NPC sorority, is life long and these charter members listed below have become a part of Theta Phi Alpha history, Clarkson University history and are proud of their accomplishments. The collegiate initiates for the Gamma Mu chapter of Theta Phi Alpha at Clarkson University were: Nicole A. Baldwin, Sarah E. Brown, Cara A. Claflin, Nicole E. Conroy, Barbara A. Eikov, Lauren M. Gaskell, Catherine Higgins, Claire A. Horvath, Jennifer L. Hubbley, Stacey M. Jackson, Tiffany Jones, Mary E. King, Christine N. Labbate, Alicen Morley, H. Rose Plosila, Victoria M. Ponce, Amber L. Rusello, Alana K. Searleman, Susannah F. Small, Brittany M. Stegemoller, Jaana A. Tuomala, Katie M. Wickswat, and Samantha A. Wyant.

The alumnal and faculty advisor initiates for the Gamma Mu chapter of Theta Phi Alpha at Clarkson University were Rebecca Briggs, Tracy Carter, Jenna Dandrea, Lauren Decker, Christina Dufresne, Sari Griffin, Dawn Jenkins, Elaine Miller, Christine Pistor, Elissa Sikora, and faculty advisor initiate Janice Searleman.

Clarkson University fraternities and sororities must meet high standards of academic performance, conduct and community service. In the past 16 semesters, the all-sorority grade-point average has been higher than the all-female average and the all-fraternity has been higher than the all-male, for all but one semester. Since the fall of 2001, Clarkson University fraternities and sororities have raised over $80,000 and performed over 20,000 hours of volunteer service in the local community.

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is a private, nationally ranked university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders in engineering, business, the sciences, health sciences and the humanities. At Clarkson, 3,000 high-ability students excel in an environment where learning is not only positive, friendly and supportive but spans the boundaries of traditional disciplines and knowledge. Faculty achieves international recognition for their research and scholarship and connects students to their leadership potential in the marketplace through dynamic, real-world problem solving.

PHOTO CAPTION: Theta Phi Alpha initiates Clarkson University women as Gamma Mu Chapter on May 20, 2006, with National President of Theta Phi Alpha MariAnn Callais. Shown are the members during their initiation weekend proudly holding their charter.

Photo 1: Row 1 (L-R) Amber L. Rusello, Jennifer L. Hubbley, Nicole E. Conroy, Cara A. Claflin, Alana K. Searleman, Victoria M. Ponce, Susannah F. Small, Dawn Jenkins, Row 2 (L-R) Sarah E. Brown, Christina Dufresne, Row 3 (L-R) Elaine Miller, Nicole A. Baldwin, Rebecca Briggs, Stacey M. Jackson, Jaana A. Tuomala, Tiffany Jones, Claire A. Horvath, Brittany M. Stegemoller, H. Rose Plosila, Catherine Higgins, Christine N. Labbate, Lauren M. Gaskell, Alicen Morley, MariAnn Callais, Elissa Sikora, and Tracy Carter, Row 4 (L-R) Lauren Decker, Sari Griffin.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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